The Wayfarer (mnfaure) wrote,
The Wayfarer

La Réunion, pt 2

Yesterday's photo post was from the 10-12th of January. We arrived on the evening of the 9th, and it was already dark outside. The eve of our arrival, torrential rains caused  a rockfall on the oceanside highway, killing a man, so we had to take a horrid switchback mountain road full of hairpin turns and these amazingly dangerous ditches. Perhaps there's a term for them, but having grown up in a desert, I don't know it. Basically, you have two lanes, and then the road drops off on each side at a 90° angle into a 3ft-deep, 2ft wide ditch, usually made of concrete.  Most of the time there is no barrier of any kind and no shoulder whatsoever. Thankfully, Hervé was at the wheel and he is used to the conditions. Still, the drive that should have taken ten-fifteen minutes took an hour and a half.

The photos I'll post now correspond to the 13-16th. We left on the morning of the 17th, so it was pretty much straight to the airport.

As you can see, we did a lot in a week.
Hervé et Ti ClaudeExterior flank of Cirque de Cilaos
Hervé et Ti Claude

"Ti" is creole for petite, and Claude, who is a tiny woman, is known affectionately by friends and family as Ti Claude. It sounds funny to call her simply Claude.
Exterior flank of Cirque de Cilaos

Cilaos is the only caldera that we didn't visit. Just another reason to go back.
Grand BassinMeadow
Grand Bassin

Kilometers below our vantage point was this beautiful, water-sculpted basin, named, aptly enough, Grand Bassin. In the previous photo, you can just make out the waterfall and basin in the bottom left corner.

No, one of our photos from mainland France did not sneak into the batch. This is a meadow along the road to the volcano, Piton de la Fournaise.
Rivière des RempartsVallée de la Rivière des Remparts
Rivière des Remparts

And quite the impressive ramparts they are. In Sancerre, we lived on rue des Remparts, but they didn't really resemble these. :D
Vallée de la Rivière des Remparts

This river valley is actually a caldera.
Steep stopPanorama before the Rivière des Remparts
Steep slope

Wouldn't want to climb this one...
Panorama before the Rivière des Remparts

Panorama of the Plaine des CafresWhere are we again?
Panorama of the Plaine des Cafres

Er, it's under there somewhere. :P
Where are we again?

Is this still La Réunion? The vegetation is so varied for an island with a circumference of 220km. Reunion's tortured, ravine-carved relief has around 200 mircoclimates, with landscapes that range from desertic savannahs to tropical forests.
Inspiration for Van GoghLa Plaine des Cafres
Inspiration for Van Gogh

This view makes me think of an Impressionist painting.
La Plaine des Cafres

I love this view. Living on a tropical island, I find this scene quite...exotic. :D
Could it be Mars?Dust devil
Could it be Mars?

View of La Plaine des Sables, just before the still-active volcano.
Dust devil

The dirt road leading to the volcano. As you can attest from the number of cars, the volcano is quite the tourist attraction. I don't know why that surprised me, but it did.
Edge of the worldLa Plaine des Sables
Edge of the world

This photo doesn't really do it justice, but with those clouds billowing up, it looked as if the edge of the world was waiting for us just over that cliff.
La Plaine des Sables

Tourist on the Plaine des SablesLe Piton Formica Leo
Tourist on the Plaine des Sables

Le Piton Formica Leo

This little reddish crater in the foreground dates from 1753. It gets its name from its resemblance to an anthill. You can't see the people on the crater in this picture because they look like, well, ants, or mites rather. :P
Panorama of the PitonLunch time
Panorama of the Piton

This volcano erupts once or twice a year. Too bad it didn't happen while we were there. I've dreamed of seeing a volcano erupt since I was a little girl. It's one of the most fascinating sites on earth, I think.
Lunch time

Look! I'm wearing long-sleeves! You can't see the fog in this pic because it had momentarily lightened, but we were surrounded by it. Julie kept apologizing for the weather, but I loved it. It reminded me of Sancerre.
Sea vers St-BenoitCreek
Sea vers St-Benoit

Yes, we were on an island. It's just that the land was so much more impressive than all that water. :D

The creek feeding widest of the cascades that spills into the Bassin de la Paix.
Bassin de la PaixAnother view of Bassin de la Paix
Bassin de la Paix

After the drive up the volcano, we traversed the island and hiked down to this little pool with its three waterfalls to refresh ourselves.
Another view of Bassin de la Paix

The place might have been more peaceful if not for the 20 or so other bathers who can braved the steep, broken-staired hike down to the pool.
What did I tell you about waterfalls?Damien
What did I tell you about waterfalls?

If you don't like clouds, mountains, and cascades, you really shouldn't be looking at these pics. :P

He's near the third and highest of the three falls that pour into Bassin de la Paix.
HervéBasaltic Rock Organ

Nothing like a few thousand gallons of water pummeling you to make you feel clean.
Basaltic Rock Organ

Rock formations between the two major cascades. They remind me of the Giant's Causeway.
Shooting rangeNot too bad
Shooting range

Out of the three couples, Ti Claude and I are the only non-police folk, so, on a rainy day, Hervé, who is a sports and shooting instructor in the French police force, took us (well, everyone but Ti Claude) to a shooting range for a private training session.
Not too bad

...says Hervé. I actually hit the target. Several times. Yay me. :P
Mountains in the mistDamien shows off his fangs
Mountains in the mist

We went up to Maïdo Peak with Hervé, but it was a bit too late in the day (11am) and clouds already covered the view.
Damien shows off his fangs

Damien the Daywalker.
MaïdoSunrise over the peaks

The next morning, we made the great sacrifice of waking up at 4:30 am to get to the rim of Mafate before the daily clouds arrived.
Sunrise over the peaks

Good morning, MafateLe Bronchard and the village of Roche-Plate (flat rock)
Good morning, Mafate

Le Bronchard and the village of Roche-Plate (flat rock)

There are no roads into Mafate, only foot trails, and the inhabitants like it that way. Their provisions come by helicopter.
Rivière des GaletsCimendef topped by clouds
Rivière des Galets

Cimendef topped by clouds

Julie and DamienIlets aux Orangers
Julie and Damien

on Maïdo Peak.
Ilets aux Orangers the little village on the extreme left of the photo, in the shadow of the steep ridge.
Les Trois SalazesGros Morne and Morne de Fourche
Les Trois Salazes

Gros Morne and Morne de Fourche

The Cirque de Mafate was first home to runaway slaves. Their chief, a sorceror, gave the caldera its name, "Mafate," Malagasy for "he who stinks." The name came from malodorous sulfurous springs which no longer exist. If I understood the anecdote correctly, Mafate was also the sorceror's name.
The fearsome four 
The fearsome four


Maybe Julien will asked to be assigned to La Réunion. We have so many things to do in this life that it would be a pity to die too young. :P

Tags: pics, réunion

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